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Girls’ Friendly Society includes boys in campaign against gender-based violence

Posted on: March 2, 2018 2:04 PM
Young South African men and women from the Girls’ Friendly Society and Boy’s Friendly Society wear orange as part of their campaign against gender-based violence.
Photo Credit: GFS South Africa

The Girls’ Friendly Society, an Anglican youth movement, has created a male equivalent in South Africa and together, young men and women are learning to tackle gender-based violence. At its meeting in Perth, Australia, in July last year, the GFS World Council resolved to dedicate the 25th of each month as “Orange Day” in support of a program against the abuse of woman and girls. All GFS members are asked to wear an orange colour and speak out on issues of abuse and do something about it. In South Africa, GFS decided that the issue couldn’t be tackled properly without involving boys, so created a Boys’ Friendly Society.

“We cannot fight gender-based violence if we do not raise boys with the values of respecting girls and raise them together,” the Johannesburg-based World President of GFS, Thembeka Pama, said.

GFS South Africa has worked with the country’s Commission for Gender Equality and Gift of the Givers to create an education programme. It was launched last Sunday at the Church of Christ the King in Sophia Town, Johannesburg, attended by young people from different dioceses in the South African province of Gauteng.

The launch event involved a dialogue for young people on gender issues that affect them. “The facilitator first spoke about gender stereotypes at our home and communities,” Thembeka Pama said. “She informed the young people that the act of abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and economical. She further engaged the youth on emotional and psychological abuse. The youth has to identify those type of abuse themselves. . .

“The purpose of this workshop was to empower young people as they now understand the meaning of gender and gender-based violence. They promised to go to their homes and make a difference in their communities.”

The session concluded with young people reflecting on what they had learned. “What stood up was bearing one another’s burden,” Thembeka Pama said. This programme will now be rolled out in all dioceses in South Africa.